Looking for something to do with your kids? Maybe some great recipes or crafts? How about home management, healthy and frugal living tips, or organization and work/life balance ideas?
Let me do the problem solvin' for you - click here to subscribe! _____________________________________________

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Picking a Party Theme

photo by normanack
A few weeks ago I posted on 5 tips for saving time and/or money when planning a party. In this post we'll follow up and elaborate on how a theme can save you both time AND money!

First, a theme can save you money if you tailor it correctly. For example, say you are having a birthday party for one of your girlfriends. You want to save money on food, but at the same time you want it to be delicious and fun - 2 possible options are a brunch or appetizers. Prefer a morning party? Go with a brunch. Looking for something later in the day? An appetizer party could be early afternoon or later in the evening (after dinner). Let's choose brunch.

A theme can also help you save time by giving you direction and helping you determine where you want to go with your party. Think about what your friend's interests are when choosing a theme. Does your friend like to travel? Does she enjoy gardening? Let's assume for the sake of this example she enjoys to travel. A travel themed brunch could center around breakfast foods from different parts of the world, or you could simply make up cute names for more "ordinary" foods that tie in your theme. A few things I would prepare for this theme would be french toast bites, tropical fruit salad, Mediterranean omelet casserole, and exotic fruit drinks and coffees or teas. Brunches are especially economical because breakfast foods tend to be very affordable.

Now that you know you're having a party with a travel theme, you can think about ideas for invitations and decorations centering on this theme. If you want to give a party favor, your travel theme can also help you come up with an idea for favors. Don't feel you have to extend the theme to all aspects of the party if you're having trouble tying it together, only use it in so far as it will help you.

I used the travel example because I threw a travel themed bridal shower for a girlfriend who really enjoyed travelling with her future husband. We sent pretty traditional shower invitations, but we requested guests think (if they wanted to) of a way to suggest the bride use her shower gift on a trip with her groom to be. We included card stock and requested each guest provide a travel tip or a suggestion for a future trip the bride and groom might enjoy. We used this card stock along with photos from the event to make a keepsake for my friend. We included a few games since it was a bridal shower, and the prizes for the game winners were travel themed.

For my daughter's first birthday I found a great deal on some cute dessert napkins and plates that said "I'm One" and had a teddy bear on them. I only bought a few items with this design and filled in with coordinating solid colors. I made a teddy bear smash cake for her to eat. In this case, the napkins and plates, and a matching bib provided me an idea for what kind of cake I wanted to make and a basic color scheme.

Next week I will wrap up this series with some tips on how to save money on decorations for parties.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


monica said...

fThis comes at a great time. My son's 8th birthday is coming up. I don't have much money to spend, but want it to be cute.

I will probably make his cake this year. (A first for me). Have you made birthday cakes before?

Tricia said...

This is great advice and absolutely spot-on. There's nothing more draining on a party budget than wandering around a store, picking things up because you think they may work, but you're not sure how it'll all come together.

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

Monica, I have made birthday cakes before - it wasn't as hard as I thought, and I actually had fun doing it! I definitely recommend using the cooking spray that has flour in it if you're going to use a shaped mold. If you want to chat about it some more, send me an email!

Thanks, Tricia! Having done it both ways, I completely agree ;)

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of carrying the theme to the food!

One word of warning about themes. If you're not careful you can end up blowing money trying to stick to a theme, especially for kids birthdays. Those character plates, napkins, favors, balloons add up very quickly and carry a premium price... unless you can grab them when they change themes and are at clearance prices. This happens in December so keep your eyes peeled.

But to lower the cost I find free print outs online and use those to help with the decorating.

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

Hi Twithhoney! Great tip, I love free printables, and what a clever way to stretch your decorating dollars, especially with kids parties!

I used printables as placemats at a work fundraiser once, and they were a big hit.

It is definitely a good idea to not go overboard with the themed decorations, both from a budget standpoint, and to keep things from being overwhelming/tacky!

I will definitely keep my eye out for clearance in December, as Sweetpea's birthday is in early spring.

normanack said...

Great advice!
My two cents, for a child's birthday, is to make the cake together -- the child's involvement depending on age, obviously. :-)

Well, another two cents. Some children have a very open definition of theme: "Airplanes! And a gorilla. And everyone has magic wands." It can be fun.